Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 is in the group of vitamins that are water soluble. This vitamin takes part in many biochemical reactions. Lack of folic acid can lead to many health problems: megaloblastic anemia, complications in pregnancy and many more.
The type of anemia caused by lack of folic acid occurs because of disruption in the process of creating “healthy” erythrocytes. The bone marrow produces dysfunctional erythrocytes and this causes anemia.
There are a number of reasons of developing anemia because of lack of folic acid.
Nutritive reasons. Frequently, the lack of folic acid is due to the inadequate diet or diet poor of folates in combination with alcoholism.
Malabsorbance. Certain health conditions like Crown disease can lead to a lack of folates.
Increased need for intake of folic acid. Certain conditions increase the need of the body for folic acid: pregnancy, puberty, hemolytic anemia, tumors, chronic dialysis etc.
Medications. Use of certain medicaments like methotrexate, trimethoprim, and oral contraception can result in lack of folic acid.
Symptoms and signs
- Difficulty breathing
- Painful tongue with a feeling of tingling
- Decreased focus
- Low appetite
- Weight loss
The anemia caused by lack of folic acid has a similar symptomatology like the anemia caused by lack of vitamin B12. But, deficit of folic acid rarely causes neuropathy in contrast to the first one.
The reserves of folic acid in the body are low compared to daily use. That is why a diet poor with folic acid can lead to anemia in relatively short time.
To establish diagnosis, a detailed physical examination is required. Additionally, a differential blood analysis has to be conducted and biochemical analysis. Additional clinical examination may be needed, depending on the cause of the anemia.
Therapy and prevention
Lack of folic acid is treated by oral products taken in daily doses, prescribed by a doctor. The duration of the therapy depends on the cause of the condition.
Pregnant women are advised to consume folic acid as a prevention.
In case of weak but chronic folic acid deficit, a specific diet is recommended, a diet which will include: spinach, broccoli, citrus fruits, nuts etc.